Thailand's health minister on Wednesday discouraged tourists from visiting the country solely to smoke weed, just two months after new laws were passed that largely decriminalized the drug.
“We don't welcome those kinds of tourists,” Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters when asked about recreational marijuana use among foreign visitors. In 2018, Thailand became the first Southeast Asian country to cannabis legalized for medical use. In June, non-patient use was decriminalized, leading to widespread recreational use.
Fine for smoking weed in public
Despite the government's pleas not to get high, cannabis companies with dedicated smoking areas are a hit with locals and visitors alike. But those who smoke weed in public face up to three months in prison or fines of up to 25.000 baht ($705.82).
Anutin's comments come even as foreign tourism starts to pick up in the travel industry dependent country. Southeast Asia's second-largest economy expects 8 to 10 million tourists this year, up from a previous forecast of 7 million.
Last year, the pandemic reduced the number of foreign arrivals to just 428.000, compared to a record nearly 40 million in 2019. Thailand has framed its cannabis policy around the 28 billion baht ($790,29 million) industry focused on medical and health benefits. of weed.
However, Anutin said recreational use could be explored once there is a better understanding of the drug. “Maybe it will come in the near future,” he said. Thailand's cannabis policy has also attracted the interest of regional neighbors such as Malaysia, which studies the use of cannabis for medical purposes.